Christmas in the Lost Ground
Kazuma had begun to wonder if there would come a time when he was no longer constantly, jaw-droppingly amazed by everything he and Kanami did together. If one day he would wake up and realize the more intimate parts of their relationship were now just as routine as the way they still constantly joked around with each other.
Today was not that day.
Today, Kazuma was holding his newborn daughter in his arms, and he was feeling more than a little overwhelmed. Kanami was propped up in the bed next to him, still awake, but more than a little tired. She had refused any drugs for the event, but then, she didn't need any, since she had simply used her alter to kill all feeling below her arms. Even so, it had clearly still been exhausting, and the way Kanami had winced and gritted her teeth when she restored the feeling to her lower body just a few minutes ago had caused him to silently vow that they would not be doing this again for a long time, if ever.
Several people had suggested that he record the birth for posterity, but he had ultimately decided against it, and now he was very glad he had. This pretty much had to be the most embarrassing event of Kanami's entire life, what with all the medical personnel that had been busy at work between her legs, combined with the involuntary pooping. On top of that, the end result had almost seemed like something out of a horror movie, at least to Kazuma. Watching a bloody, shrieking little human being with a squished skull emerge from the woman he loved might have been the most horrifying thing he'd ever witnessed.
Kazuma let out a low groan as he sank into the chair next to Kanami's bed, trying to get the image out of his mind, and not succeeding. "Aw, did you have a tough day today, Kazu-kun?" Kanami teased him. "Come on, you knew what it was going to be like. You sure talked to Ryuho about it enough. And I know he wouldn't have sugar-coated it for you."
"I know, I know." Kazuma forced a smile onto his face. "But knowing the dry facts is one thing. Seeing it happen hits your brain at a much more primitive level."
"You can say that again." Kanami winced once more as she slightly shifted her position on the bed. "I've never seen so much of my blood outside of my body." She closed her eyes for a second, but then looked over at Kazuma. "How's she doing?"
"Well, about the same as when you handed her to me forty seconds ago." Kazuma smiled. "Rest already. I know you didn't get much in the way of sleep last night."
"True enough." Kanami responded even as she yawned. "What time is it, anyway?"
Kazuma looked out the window. The sun had just gone behind the mountains to the west, but daylight was still visible on the ocean. "Somewhere between six and seven, I'd guess."
"Huh?" Kanami looked confused. "What happened to your watch?"
"Oh, you broke it." Kazuma answered easily.
"I did?" Kanami was surprised. "When was this?"
"At the same time you were yelling that I'd never touch you again." Kazuma's smile dimmed a bit now. This had been during a contraction, BEFORE Kanami had used her alter to deaden her own nerve endings.
"Oh." Kanami shrugged. "Well, I didn't mean that. Not really. No, we're going to..." The rest of her sentence dissolved into an unintelligible mumble as she drifted off to sleep.
Kazuma looked down at his daughter again. She was also sleeping peacefully, thankfully. Now cleaned up and wearing standard baby clothes, she looked much more presentable, though her head still looked kind of freaky. Kazuma knew it could be a couple of days before the bones of her skull slid into a more normal shape. Mostly though, Kazuma was just awed by the responsibility that literally rested in his arms. For the next eighteen years, he was going to be completely responsible for this little life, and she was going to remain a major part of his life until the day he died. He turned over to regard Kanami's sleeping form for a second. Kanami had just turned nineteen four days ago; she was barely grown up herself, though she definitely didn't act like it. "Sorry I put you through this so early." Kazuma whispered.
Then his gaze returned to his daughter. "Sorry you ended up with a couple of clueless kids as parents." He smiled a bit. "But we'll do the best we can. Welcome to the world, Ayase. Hopefully it'll be a better place by the time you're grown up, so the biggest problem I'll have to worry about is restraining my urge to punch your boyfriend if he doesn't have you home by curfew." Kazuma felt a new wave of apprehension shoot through his gut as he pictured Ayase as a teenager. "But, do me one favor, okay? Don't grow up too fast." Kazuma turned to look out the window again. He was very hungry, he was tired himself, and he had to go to the bathroom. But somehow, he didn't want to break up this peaceful scene. Instead, he simply watched the light of the sunset as his daughter slept in his arms, and Kanami slept right next to him. All was right with the world.
"I was... I was dreaming. The person in my dream was happier than he'd ever been before, and it was all because of me. The two of us... had created a new life, and death no longer seemed to hold any sway over us. It was a very intense, very exhausting, and very beautiful dream. And I kept on dreaming... forever. Forever..."
The End (Of this story.)
But Kazuma and Kanami will return in THE RIGHT TO EXIST!
"Nothing... I need nothing, other than him. If there's a path he should take, I'll light the way. If there are rocks in front of him, I'll turn them to dust. I will be a shield for him. I will use my body, and my spirit. He is the reason... why I exist in this world." - Scheris Adjani, s-CRY-ed
CREDITS IN THE LOST GROUND
So, Christmas in the Lost Ground is now complete. This is actually the first story I've finished--not just the first fanfic, but the first story of any kind--since What Makes A Hero at the end of 1998. Oh, I've STARTED plenty of stories since then, but somehow, I just haven't gotten very far with most of them. Tempo Trigger has been in production continuously since the summer of 1998, but given that I'm working on Chapter 61 now, and that it's probably going to go to AT LEAST 125 chapters, it's clearly going to be in production for several more years, at least.
So, this was a special story for a couple of reasons. It was kind of my first anime fanfiction in nine years. It wasn't the first one I'd started working on since Relena's Hero, but it did end up being the first one I posted up. This story is very different in tone from most of my other works, which tend to take themselves pretty seriously and are usually crammed full of action from start to finish. Plus, when I started out, I thought this story was going to be a fairly short one, similar in length to Trials of the King or What Makes A Hero. When you look at the number of chapters, I suppose it's not too different, but when you look at the actual word count... BIG difference. Forget The Origin of Mount Woe, this thing is almost as long as The Aftermath of Mount Woe! That's just crazy. Finally, this story was probably one of those that wouldn't have been finished, if not for the fan response. A look at the original completion dates of the chapters is quite revealing here:
Chapter 1: Daydreams - July 10th, 2006
Chapter 2: The Last Night - July 14th, 2006
Chapter 3: The Recurring Dream - July 15th, 2006
Chapter 4: Kanami's Surprise - August 2nd, 2006
Chapter 5: A Bit of the Old Ultraviolence - August 7th, 2006
Chapter 6: The Truth At Last - November 22nd, 2006
Chapter 7: A Few Firsts - May 29th, 2008
Chapter 8: They're Up to Something - November 8th, 2008
Chapter 9: Space is the Place - March 20th, 2009
Chapter 10: Kazuma's Present - March 27th, 2009
Chapter 11: Anxiety in the Afterglow - September 3rd, 2009
Chapter 12: Christmas Day - November 12th, 2009
Chapter 13: New Year's Eve - December 10th, 2009
Chapter 14: Meet the Yutas - December 15th, 2009
Chapter 15: The Long Flight Home - December 20th, 2009
Epilogue - December 22nd, 2009
As you can see, I had a lot of enthusiasm right at the start, but it waned after I got to the big scene in Chapter 6 where Kazuma finally tells Kanami that he loves her. Then it waned again after the big love scene in Chapter 10. Even though I've got the main plot points for BOTH sequels pretty much planned out already, I wasn't sure I was going to finish the first installment. Hell, I've got a TON of ideas for fanfics that I'll probably never write, (Middle Earth: The Fifth Age is at the top of that category.) so that wasn't such a big deal. But then, I actually got the story posted up on FFN, and people clearly liked it. So, here you go. There are a fair number of people I'd like to thank. I'll TRY not to turn this into Version 1.0 of the Tempo Trigger Credits, but I will be thanking some people who really had nothing to do with this story. Just a heads up. First though, I need to thank...
Everyone who read this story! Especially Senorita Lucha 777 and ItachiJr08, who liked it enough to review again and again. An author isn't much without an audience to read his work, and this story now has more hits than any of my others. (Though What Makes A Hero inexplicably remained the most popular until just a few months ago.) So, if you've read this far, I'm very grateful.
Sunrise, the anime studio that has made more of my favorite series than every other anime studio put together. (Though when are we going to get English versions of Gundam Double Zeta, Victory Gundam, Gundam X, and Turn A Gundam? I've been waiting to see Double Zeta for nearly five years now! Come on!) Thanks for s-CRY-ed, but why haven't we gotten the sequel series you clearly left room for?
"Icy" Brian Work, webmaster of icybrian-dot-com, and the best director outside of Los Angeles. He was the first person to post my fanfiction online, and the first person other than my parents to ever read anything I'd written. (I was 15 at the time. Cut me some slack.)
Cain, Nightsong, and especially Mox Jet, my fellow authors in the (now defunct) World of Imagination. All are talented authors, and I like all their work. In Mox's case, the fact that one of my biggest fans turned out to be an author just as talented as I am was quite possibly the best compliment I've ever gotten.
Paul Nathans, who is basically an eternally prepubescent version of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, but who has also been a very good friend to me. He actually challenges my assumptions and gets me to really THINK about my work more than anyone else I know.
Mike Arrington, my first roommate here at Grand Canyon. He was a religious Republican, but since we had the same taste in anime, we got along pretty well. s-CRY-ed was probably our favorite series that we watched together, though note that not all of Fullmetal Alchemist was out on DVD yet at that time...
Blake Ewan, my fifth and coolest roommate at Grand Canyon. Though he did try to talk me into going to something called "Yaoi-Con", he did so with the rationale that, "You realize the attendance is ninety percent female, right?" so all was forgiven. (And no, I didn't go.) He definitely knew more about anime than I did, and he had even discovered evidence that Anno WAS on drugs while he was making Evangelion.
Winnie - You know why. If you don't come over from Taiwan to work at the Canyon again next summer, then girl, I'm going to go insane.
All right then, Merry Christmas everybody! Enjoy your holiday, and I'll see you next year with The Right To Exist! This is Nanaki, signing off.